Due to an incident of sexual misconduct at Sportsway Cafe, the local bar will be facing a one-day liquor license suspension next month.
On Feb. 10, Norton Police Department received a report from a female Wheaton College student that she was sexually assaulted while at the Sportsway Café earlier that month. The victim stated to police that on Feb. 2, she was at the bar with friends when she was sexually assaulted by Paul Panaikas, an employee of the establishment. He was working at the time of the incident. Panaikas said that the 21-year-old woman initiated sex with him.
Panaikas was arrested and charged with one count of rape and one count of indecent assault and battery of a person over the age of 14. He was released on $2,500 cash bail after the rape charge was reduced to indecent assault and battery. He fired the night of the allegation.
Owner Christopher Barrows did not dispute the facts brought before Selectmen at a hearing Thursday night.
“I’ve taken every action needed,” Barrows said. “I feel that everything has been going in the right direction.”
“There has been no other incidents,” said Norton Police Chief Brian Clark. “The last one was December of 2007, before he took over.”
Clark added that an unrelated allegation pertaining the bar, but there was unsubstantiated evidence. Two females reported suspicions of their drinks being drugged. Information associated with this report was ommited from the hearing.
“Having a liquor license is a tremendous responsibility and we need to make sure the safety of the patrons and the public who go there is of the utmost concern of the people who have these licenses,” Clark said.
The Board of Selectmen decided that the incident violated the liquor license statutes and voted to shut down Sportsway Cafe Friday, Jan. 25. They also requested that Barrows send them a policy by that date in case such an incident were to occur again. Barrows has the opportunity to appeal.
“It’s unfortunate that one person has this kind of effect on an operation, but that’s part of owning a business,” said Selectman Bradford Bramwell.